Day Trip to Sintra Castles in Portugal

Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

In my opinion, a trip to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete without taking a day to explore Sintra. The town is filled with UNESCO world heritage sites, and since most of the attractions are located on top of mountains, you get a great view on clear days. And who doesn’t love castles?!

Sintra can easily be a day trip or a 2-3 day itinerary. Since our Lisbon stay was relatively short, I decided to go for the daytrip option.

 


Getting to Sintra


 
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
 

Take the train from the Rossio station in Lisbon for 40-50 minutes and you’ll arrive in Sintra. The ticket is quite economical at 2.25 euros, one way. Make sure you check the train schedule ahead of time since there are only trains every 20 minutes on weekdays and every hour on weekends.

Once you leave the Sintra train station, you’ll see tons of tourist bus operators trying to recruit you. Those would cost you around 20-25 euros for a hop-on hop-off service. Or you can walk to the right and find the bus stop close to the tourist center. Take bus 434 and pay around 3 euros for a more economical hop-on and off ride. Here are the routes for bus 434 & 435:

Bus 434

  • Sintra Train Station

  • National Palace of Sintra

  • Castle of the Moors

  • Pena Palace

Bus 435

  • Sintra Train Station

  • National Palace of Sintra

  • Quinta da Regaleira

  • Seteais Palace

  • Monserrate Palace

The bus only goes one direction (from the top bullet point to the bottom), so make sure you plan your visit accordingly.

We got to Sintra around noon so we didn’t have a lot time to visit too many places, so we picked two attractions - Moorish Castle and Pena Palace.

 

Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle)


Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

This medieval fantasy fortress sits on up of the hill (1,300 feet above sea level, to be exact), so it requires some walking to get there. It used to be a military site, which explains the walls on various faces of the castle. The pathways that line the walls are quite narrow and steep, but they do offer a great view of Sintra.

Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
 
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
 
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

We spent about an hour or two here then headed to our next stop.

 

Palacio da Pena (Pena Palace)


Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

The heat in Lisbon used to drive the royals out to this beautiful summer palace and exotic gardens for centuries.

 
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
 


Pena Palace has got to be the most colorful castle I’ve ever visited. Most of the castles I’ve looked at so far were in these styles:

  • Gothic (Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary and Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic)

  • Baroque (Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria)

  • Classical (Palace of Versailles in Paris, France.)

Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

Pena Palace is in a new style I’ve never seen before - Romanticist. I didn’t even know that’s an architectural style! Well, after I did some research, it seems like Romanticist is actually a blend of many different styles:  Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance. To sum it up, the palace looks quite exotic and unlike any other.

 
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
 
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

The inside of the castle is also worth a visit. The Arabesque courtyard is surrounded by elegant rooms built in Moorish and Manueline styles.

Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

Plan to stay 2-3 hours here to take it all in!

Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal
Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

The one other attraction that I really wanted to go but couldn’t due to time was Quinta da Regaleira. I’ll recommend looking into that!

Heelsonthego sintra Pena palace Portugal

Tips

  • Even with the bus rides to take you between attractions, there are still plenty of walking (sometimes hiking) in Sintra. So make sure to wear comfortable shoes!

  • I know many of you are eager beavers that want to visit 3 or 4 or 5 attractions for a 1 day trip in Sintra, but I’m here to tell you that is NOT possible! 3 would be the maximum you could have if you get to Sintra early and you bring your own lunch. In other words, if you stop for a lunch break, then it’s very unlikely that you’ll get to all the places planned in one day.

  • For most of the attractions, you can buy tickets online prior to visiting, at a discount.

Don’t forget to check out my previous post on Lisbon if you haven’t!

 


 

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